About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and two children.
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“The cemeteries are full of people who thought they were indispensable.”
— Fr. Valentine Young, OFM (2007)

Audio Recordings • Sacred Music Symposium
published 6 June 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

464 Sacred Music Symposium 2016 WE HAD ONLY TWO goals for the Sacred Music Symposium, which concluded last week here in Los Angeles:

(1) Give music directors valuable advice and useful techniques to use with amateur choirs.

(2) Make sure the ceremonies on Tuesday evening were executed with perfection.

Both these goals were accomplished beyond our wildest dreams. The conductors—Dr. Calabrese & Dr. Buchholz—were utterly amazing.

It was never our objective to record high quality audio from the Symposium. Capturing excellent audio is quite a difficult task—it’s not just a matter of pulling out your iPhone! Each participant who attended knows how beautiful the music came out, and no microphone could ever capture the sounds properly. At various times, the hair on my arms stood up because of the utter beauty of the music.

The people who attended the Symposium—all of them without exception—were magnificent, generous, and inspiring.

THE FOLLOWING RECORDINGS don’t do justice to what took place. Indeed, several microphones were placed in the wrong spot, so only certain sections could be heard. All I can do is repeat: it was never one of our goals to capture professional audio.

Let’s start with a clip was recorded at the front of Church. The “chink chink” sound is the priest incensing the Altar:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • “Kyrie Eleison” (Guerrero)

The next clip begins with SATB, then an organ improvisation, then the choir singing in unison:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • “Come Holy Ghost”

The next clip has the choir singing unaccompanied plainsong:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • “Plainsong Without Accompaniment”

The next clip has an excerpt by a modern composer. Again, the sound you hear is the celebrant incensing the Altar:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • “Ave Maris Stella” (Lhoumeau)

Here’s some really thick counterpoint in five voices, including a perfect canon between Soprano and Tenor:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • “Five-Voice Agnus” (Guerrero)

Here’s a mixture of plainsong with ancient fauxbourdon:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • “Veni Creator” (Fauxbourdon)

Here’s where the ladies sing psalmody accompanied by the organ, which pierces the heart with a dark beauty. You can hear the priest quietly reciting the Communion antiphon:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • Communion Psalmody

Here’s a modern piece accompanied by organ. The loud sound you hear is 500 people sitting down, because the people sit down when the priest does:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • “Gloria In Excelsis” (Mercier)

Here’s more accompanied plainsong, and it’s hard for me to understand why some people don’t appreciate accompanied plainsong when I hear how nicely this came out:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • “Plainsong With Accompaniment”

Finally, here’s an example of a soprano descant:

    * *  Mp3 Audio • Hymn Descant

HERE ARE SOME iPhone clips, but the quality is very low:

    * *  iPhone Clip • “First Rehearsal”

    * *  iPhone Clip • “Church Rehearsal”

    * *  iPhone Clip • “Ramada Rehearsal”

    * *  iPhone Clip • “Attendance In Church”

    * *  iPhone Clip • “Gloria Rehearsal”

From Honolulu, Hawaii:

When I decided to attend the Sacred Music Symposium, I was seeking an answer—a prayer of hope to rekindle the flame of love and affirm my decision in music ministry.

Jeff Ostrowski is genuine and hit the heart. His talks grasped the real struggles and frustrations the church musician endures and provided a treasure of tips and knowledge to cope with the challenges. It was an affirmation and consolation of hope that lifted the uncertainty from my heart, and I found the answer I was seeking: Sing, Sing, Sing!!!

But nothing prepared me the most when I sang movements from Francisco Guerrero under the helms of Dr. Calabrese and Dr. Buchholz because they made it so simple and yet extraordinarily magnificent as they steered the choir with poignant understanding of breathing techniques, pronunciation, and total surrender from the heart.

Dr. Buchholtz and Meaghan King’s superb organ playing finally ignited the flame. Watching them play and listening to the pipe organ was absolutely magnificent.

Thank you for allowing me to sing among the stars to honor the Mother of God on her Feast of the Queenship of Mary. And may God continue to bless ccwatershed—a wonderful apostolate.

From Los Angeles, California:

My mind is still awash with the beautiful chants and polyphonic settings we practiced for three days and performed with such reverence and excitement. Our choir’s sound improved so much and I learned a lot. Seeing our bishop’s face brighten when I introduced a few of us as members of the choir made all the hard work even more meaningful. I am excited about experiencing this symposium again next year.

From Sacramento, California:

I was somewhat intimidated when signing up for the Sacred Music Symposium, as this was both the first time I have sung at an EF mass and the first time I’ve sung Renaissance polyphony. Jeff was very encouraging when he called for my initial interview and assured me that I would be okay if I practiced with the online rehearsal videos before the event. The practice videos were great and I felt like I was well prepared. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a beautiful celebration and to meet so many talented people offering their talents for the greater glory of God.

From Las Vegas, Nevada:

There are so many things that could be said about the Sacred Music Symposium this past week. It was truly an illuminating experience! The expertise of Jeff Ostrowski and our conductors Dr. Bulcholz and Dr. Calabrese was considerable and impressive. This Symposium was an opportunity to shake up my usual musical routine and gain fresh perspective on the different possibilities of phrasing and stylistic interpretation. And the conference talks were not only instructive, they were surprising. I heard things I never expected to hear and learned things I never expected to learn. There were many moments when I came away from either the talks or the rehearsals saying “Wow!”

There is so much to mull over from the Symposium, I’m still thinking about it all. Perhaps one of the overarching take-aways is just how timeless sacred music is. In my own small parish, or in the great cathedrals of the world … today, or 1000 years ago … sacred music has a continuity of praise and worship in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, like God himself, stands the test of time.

It can be a type of stagnation when you constantly live within the narrow confines of your own musical decisions. The Symposium was a rush of fresh, cool water through the swamp of sameness. To understand that you are part of a much, much larger unified picture is absolutely invaluable. I cannot wait for next year to see what new perspectives will be presented, and to take those lessons and apply them to our parish.

From Los Angeles, California:

I started singing the Latin Mass in the mid 80’s and I must say that this Sacred Music Symposium has been the best thing I’ve ever done to improve myself as a Church musician. The Mass, which culminated the Symposium, was incredibly beautiful. Everyone I spoke with afterwards asked me if we will do this again to which I replied, “I hope so!”

Keep an eye on Views from the Choir Loft for details about next year’s Sacred Music Symposium!

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